There is a quote by Lewis Carroll that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Success is more than economic gains, titles, and degrees. Planning for success is about mapping out all the aspects of your life. It’s like taking a road trip, you need to define the specific details of the journey: origin, destination, vehicle, travel bags, landmarks, and route.
Origin: Who you are
A road trip has a starting point. Your origin is who you are right now. Most people, when asked to introduce themselves, would say, “Hi, I’m Jane Doe and I am an engineer, working for the XX Company.” This does not tell you about who Jane is; it only tells you about her present occupation and accomplishment. To gain insights into yourself, you need to look closely at your beliefs, values, and principles aside from your economic, professional, cultural, and civil status. You must also reflect on your experiences to give you an idea of your good and not-so-good traits, skills, knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses. Doing so will help you find your true self. Many of us walk around as imposters of our true selves afraid to reveal our identity because of fear of not living up to the expectations of others or society.
Destination: A vision of who you want to be
“Who do want to be?” It doesn’t matter where you started. This is your vision. I hope you haven’t lost sight of your vision. It is important that you know yourself so that you have a clearer idea of who you want to be; and the things you want to change whether they are attitudes, habits, or points of view. If you hardly know yourself, then your vision and targets for the future are also likely to be unclear. Your destination should cover all the aspects of your being: the physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. The problem is that many of us are still trying to figure out who we want to be. Sooner or later we must be that which we desire to become.
Vehicle: Your Mission
A vehicle is the means by which you can reach your destination. It can be compared to your mission or purpose in life. To an extent, your mission depends on what you know about yourself. Your mission becomes what you live for each day. It’s your reason for being; gives you the motivation to fulfill your destiny regardless of the circumstances you face. We each have our own mission to take us to where we should go. Without it, we tend to wander from place to place.
Travel Bag: Your knowledge, skills, and attitude
Food, drinks, clothing, and other traveling necessities are contained in a travel bag. Applying this concept to your life map, you bring with you certain knowledge, skills, and attitudes. These determine your competence and help you in attaining your vision. Given such, there is a need for you to assess what knowledge, skills, and attitudes you have at present and what you need to gain along the way. This two-fold assessment will give you insights on your landmarks or measures of success. Don’t be afraid to repack if you discover that you lack the knowledge, skills, and proper attitude. New opportunities always require us to replace or upgrade what’s in our travel bag.
Landmarks and Route: S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Landmarks confirm if you are on the right track while the route determines the travel time. Thus, in planning out your life roadmap, you also need to have landmarks and a route. These landmarks are your measures of success. These measures must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Some you are probably reading this article feeling that you have bypassed your landmarks or traveled too far in the wrong direction. It’s never too late to establish new landmarks and set out for a new destination. The journey is over only if you say it’s over.
Anticipate Turns, Detours, and Potholes
The purpose of a life roadmap is to minimize hasty and spur-of-the-moment decisions that can make you lose your way. But oftentimes our plans change along the way due to problems, delays, and other situations beyond our control. Like in any path, there are turns, detours, and potholes; however, we must anticipate them and adjust accordingly. If you should find yourself at a dead-end, do a quick U-turn or shift into reverse. Don’t sit there and panic. The only way to become unstuck if to take action to get back on track. It doesn’t matter if you are 18 or 81 years young a life roadmap will serve you well.
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By Dr. Robert L Kight